Parmesan 1Kg Dairy & Eggs Catering Get Fresh & Fruity

Parmesan 1Kg

Class 1 - Italy

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This fresh product is classified as Class 1 - Italy is the country of origin.

Parmesan

Pronounce it: parm-ee-zan

Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It is made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow's milk. Italy's 'Parmigiano Reggiano' is the original parmesan, although similar versions can now be found from Argentina, Australia and the USA.

The original Italian version remains superior however, boasting a ripe yellow interior, granular texture and unbeatable flavour. This is partly due to a longer maturing time of around two years, rather than the minimum 12 months required. Authentic Italian parmesan has 'Parmigiano Reggiano' stamped on the rind.

Availability

All year round.

Choose the best

Parmesan swiftly loses its flavour when it's grated, so try to avoid buying it ready-grated in tubs or bags, as it will bear no relation to how it should really taste.

Always buy Parmesan in a chunk, from which you can cut at home as needed and, if possible, buy it from a place where you can see the piece being cut from the whole cheese.

Genuine Parmigiano Reggiano should have its name stamped on the rind, as well as the year it was made. If it was made for export it will also bear the name of the producer. Avoid any parmesan that looks grey or waxy.

When it's at its best, the surface of a chunk of parmesan has tiny beads of moisture glistening on the surface; this is called 'congocciola'.

Parmesan is sold at various stages of the maturing process. Giovane is the youngest (14-18 months); Vecchio is 18 months to 2 years; Stravecchio is 2 or 3 years old and the extra mature Stravecchione is 3 to 4 years old. The more mature the cheese is, the more expensive; younger cheeses are more economical to cook with, while the deeper flavour of older parmesan is best appreciated when eaten as a dessert cheese. As with all cheeses, buy little and often, so that the cheese is always at its best.

Vegetarian versions of parmesan can also be found in supermarkets and delicatessens.

Prepare it

Pare, chop or grate as required. If serving it on a cheeseboard, take it out of the fridge 1 or 2 hours beforehand, so that the flavour and aroma have time to develop.

Store it

Keep wrapped in greaseproof paper inside a polythene bag, and store in the fridge - that way it should keep for around two months. Don't wrap it in clingfilm, as it will make it sweat, but foil is acceptable in the absence of greaseproof. If the cheese develops some mould on the surface, just scrape it off; the cheese underneath should still be good to eat.

Cook it

Grated over pasta or use to make pasta sauces (note: the Italians tend not to use it with fish or seafood sauces); scatter thin shavings over salads; use to make pesto; serve as a dessert cheese with figs or pears.

Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It is made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow's milk.

Buyer's guide

Buy fresh parmesan where possible; the taste is far superior to pre-packed cheese and avoid ready-grated cheese at all costs. Because Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is not made with vegetarian rennet, strict vegetarians avoid it. However, there are good vegetarian Parmesan-style cheeses available in most supermarkets, including one made in the UK. It's worth reading parmesan labels and quizzing cheesemongers on the age of their parmesan. Each age has different characteristics.

12-15 month Parmigiano-Reggiano has a milky, verdant flavour with a soft texture. It's ideal as an aperitif or crumbled into salads. 18 month parmesan is often exported as a good quality everyday parmesan that has a good flavour for cooking, such as freshly grated in pastas and risottos. 24-28 month Parmigiano-Reggiano is considered by Italians to have reached perfection and its rounded flavour works well in most dishes. It has a complex aroma of melted butter and dry fruit and tastes wonderful with all sorts of vegetables and fruit from spinach gnocchi and griddled asparagus to poached pears. 36-48 month Parmigiano-Reggiano has an intense, spicy flavour, drier texture and darker colour. This can be eaten like a good Stilton at the end of a meal or baked in cheese sticks, pastries and dough.

Parmesan Article by Sybil Kapoor

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